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Wolfman K9 Obedience - References

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2 July 2010 - Featured Dog - Chad

Chad

After dog sitting two cute little dogs, our son Jacob wanted a dog of his own. We searched various dog rescue sites and found a picture of Chad on the Internet. His profile said he was great with adults and children and was very eager to please.

We met Chad at the foster lady’s house. She said Chad was a year old and came from the U.S. She was told he was part Australian Cattle Dog and part English Setter. She said he had issues with other dogs. Since she had another dog in the house, we thought there couldn’t really be any issues, so we decided to adopt Chad.

On September 30, 2008, the Take Me Home rescue organization brought Chad to our home. That’s when we realized that Chad really did have issues with other dogs. That’s when our somewhat peaceful lives changed.

Taking Chad for a walk for the first time was a challenge in many ways. It was as if he had never been outdoors. If there was a sudden movement, like a leaf blowing by or a bird landing in a tree, Chad became extremely tense. He was constantly on the lookout for something.

He was strong for a 35 pound dog and we could barely control him on the walk – he was all over the place. If he saw a squirrel, he would take off after it, pulling us along with him. He even pulled Rita off the bike while in the middle of the road, trying to give a friendly greeting to a woman with a stroller.

When Chad saw a dog walking toward him, he would stand or lay down completely still. He would stare intently at the ‘target’ until suddenly he was off like a train, hanging himself at the end of his leash. Nothing we did would or could break his concentration. We were afraid to let him off his leash.

The rescue organization had a trainer who gave free training to people who rescued dogs from them. We took full advantage of this and though the trainer was encouraging and a nice person, we saw little improvement with Chad. (He actually bit Rita’s leg during a training session.) We also watched the “Dog Whisperer” and “At the End of My Leash” every day, but it seemed like they never had a dog like Chad on the shows.

Simon took Chad to a dog park one day and the only other person there was a man with a dog who bit people and other dogs. The guy said that his dog had never surrendered to another dog. So Simon and the man agreed to let both dogs go and see what would happen. Well, Chad had this dog pinned within seconds and bit him and the other dog ran behind his owner. The man couldn’t believe it.

We were in Pet Smart one day and we talking to an employee about Chad and she recommended a guy called the Wolfman. She said he helped turn around an aggressive dog of a friend of hers. So we looked up the Wolfman online and set up an appointment.

I (Rita) took Chad to Mike’s for the first time last November. I was so nervous as I was walking toward the field and saw a bunch of dogs running around. I made sure to put the muzzle on Chad and I had a tight hold of the leash.

Mike told me to drop the leash. I looked at him for several seconds, thinking this guy is crazy. Then I said, “Drop the leash? Now? Are you sure?” He told me again to drop the leash. So I did.

Well, Chad immediately went after the biggest dogs there, the Rottweilers and the St. Bernards and then any other dog he could get to. “Interesting” was all that Mike said, as my heart pounded in my chest. But Mike was in control of his dogs and was unfazed by Chad’s bad behaviour. I knew instantly that this was the environment that was necessary to get through to this dog. It made complete sense that because Chad had issues dealing with other dogs, he needed to be around other dogs in order to change his behaviour. And we needed to be instructed by a person who understands dogs and knows how to handle any situation that arises when dealing with dogs like Chad. We couldn’t find any other owners who would be willing to let their dogs interact with Chad.

At first, we didn’t think that the sit, stay, down commands were necessary. We just wanted to stop the aggression. But we soon realized why this basic training was important. Even while training, we tried to avoid the other dogs and Mike kept yelling at us “work him hard.” We didn’t understand at first, but Mike wanted us to walk Chad by other dogs and force him to concentrate on us and the commands, rather than the other dogs. When Mike or Todd handled him, Chad wouldn’t try anything when a dog came up to him. It was a different story when we handled him. So we understood that we had to use the commands and “work” Chad hard.

Chad has attended several puppy parties with mixed results. He likes to play with some dogs, which is great to see. But we’ve learned to be more aware of the signs that cause Chad to attack other dogs. We are not successful in stopping this behavior 100% of the time, but we are way more successful since attending the Mikes training.

We’ve been attending the Wolfman’s training for a year now and Chad’s progress has been steadily increasing toward the behaviour that we want. He is capable of socializing well with other dogs, as we’ve seen at the puppy parties. He also stayed at the Wolves Den for 10 days and had no issues. He obeys commands now when we’re on walks. If he sees another dog, we are able to use verbal commands that seem to make Chad much calmer and much easier to control. We put Chad’s muzzle on and if an owner agrees, we let the dogs meet. After a few minutes we can take the muzzle off and the dogs play. We feel more comfortable at this point to use the muzzle at first meeting, but we know that eventually, we won’t be needing it.

Mike and his team of trainers have been instrumental in Chad’s progress. Any set backs we have had is due to our own lack of knowledge as well as our fear and anxiety, which Chad picks up on. We also know that we have to be vigilant in Chad’s training. We can’t ever stop, even now that his behavior has improved.
We greatly appreciate Mike’s commitment to helping Chad. Mike is constantly encouraging us to continue with training and to continue to come to the puppy parties. Chad is an extremely difficult dog to control in certain circumstances, but he is a wonderful dog and worth the effort. Thanks Mike, and your team!

Simon, Rita and Jacob & Chad Kirby